Introduction and Notes on the text:
I have preserved all of Stella Bowling Cunningham’s writing, including errors, such as spelling errors, capitalization errors, etc. except where confusion might occur. I have also preserved her original paragraph breaks, although I didn’t preserve her line breaks, as the diary was written in a very thin ledger. Where writing is indecipherable or extra notation is needed in order for the reader to understand something, I have included a note in italics and brackets [ ].
Stella apparently taught school during part of the time in which she wrote this journal; this is inferred from the fact that she frequently mentions school as if she is teaching it. She apparently boarded in several houses, as it was not uncommon for local families to host teachers. One family with whom she boarded was the Cunningham family. “Mr. Cunningham” in her journal refers to Johnson Franklin Cunningham, who would become her father-in-law. Mr. A. and Mr. Amos refer to Amos Blakey Cunningham, who would become her husband. The journal might have been started during the beginning stages of their courtship and continues past their wedding, covering a total of about ten months from November 1893 to September 1894. Toward the end of the journal, she mentions how sick she feels. I think she is experiencing morning sickness, as she would have been expecting my great-grandfather, but she doesn’t mention she is pregnant in the journal.
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1893
Had school as usual & fun [possibly fine] too but not extra good order.
I am most sick with cold and cough.
In eve Uncle Jeff [I am not sure who this is, as I have no record of a sibling named “Jeff” for either of Stella’s parents, but it could be an uncle by marriage or a family friend] came by and brought me two letters, one from Rosco & one from Sadie & my Chautauquan [The Chautauquan was a publication of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, the first organized reading circle in the country, a four-year course of assigned home reading].
Sent for stamps .10 cts. For this book .10 and bought Pain Paint .25.
After school finished my gown all but buttons & holes.
Read some in my course.
Wed. Nov. 29, ’93
Thurs. Nov. 30,1893
Thanksgiving day but it was not observed here. Started to write to — [indecipherable, possibly Minnie].